Things your neurodivergent employees and colleagues really want you to know

Things your neurodivergent employees and colleagues really want you to know

Hello, I’m Louise, a Technology Consultant at Jam Pan. Diagnosed with ADHD, I’m taking this Neurodiversity Celebration Week as an opportunity to share my personal journey and shed light on what neurodiverse colleagues wish you knew.

Platforms are flooded with hints and tips for how to support employees in the workplace, so how do you determine the right approach when there is so much information out there?

The key thing for me is to avoid generic lists or stereotypical support plans. I heard a quote which said if you’ve met one neurodivergent person, you’ve met one neurodivergent person and it couldn’t be more true. There are many different conditions that fall under the neurodivergent bracket, but there is a large cross over in the traits, so it can be easy to assume that a list of support accommodations can be readily available in the workplace. Sadly, the reality is that especially for those of us who have been diagnosed later in life have spent a great deal of our working lives trying to hide our struggles and even if those support options were available, we may not seek them out due to internalised ableism and stigma.

Often these generalised approaches can lead to neurodivergent employees feeling singled out or at times devalued at work. It’s for this reason that it’s much more important to take the time to create the right culture across the organisation so that everyone feels empowered to show up at work as their true self.

I’m fortunate to have found a role that really works for my strengths and offers me the flexibility I need to think outside of the box. However, here are my top things I wish I had available throughout points in my career to enable me to finally stop masking and thrive at work:

1. Flexibility for all, rather than by request.

This reduces the feeling of being singled out as having to have special treatment and potential resentment from other employees. Offering employees the choice on how they manage things like working hours, location, and schedule promotes ownership and autonomy over your role and higher engagement.

2. Open/supportive culture

Where people can be themselves and feel comfortable without fitting into traditional styles. Not enforcing things such as a camera on policy, active listening/eye contact, having to be online at a certain time or checking in. Consider offering peer to peer support groups, or body doubling for those in remote roles.

3. Access to work support

Making employees aware about this service as they may not know it exists, it can offer a range of support from physical equipment or software to coaching and training.

4. Call free days

Especially when working remotely it can be easy to find yourself in a day of back to back meetings. This can cause further issues with executive functioning skills and overstimulation, and can lead to employees feeling burnt out. Allowing employees ownership of their own diary, setting themselves as do not disturb and the ability to block call free time or even an entire day free of the pressures of engaging socially allows time for much needed processing, planning and the ability to do tasks without distractions.

5. Most importantly, don’t assume what it looks like

Whilst it’s brilliant to educate the business about neurodivergence, remember that it’s not one size fits all and we can’t be labelled into boxes because of our diagnoses. By creating the right environment employees will feel more comfortable to challenge working processes and speak up about their preferred styles of working. Creating personalised plans really allows you to feel more than just another number. Our team have achieved this by developing a way of working slide for each of us which details how we prefer to communicate, our strengths/motivators and the tasks we need support with.

Share this entry

Louise Richardson

Straight to your inbox

Be the first to know the latest news and insights about the world of L&D by signing up to our newsletter.